Finding financial contentment is a difficult task these days.
Between the illusion of wealth portrayed on social media, and the nearly-instant satisfaction of same-day delivery, our appetite for “more” is only getting stronger. The worst part is that this appetite is what leads to discontentment.
Simply put, the more we buy, the more we want. But the more we want, the more money we need. And, the more money we need — yet don’t have — the less satisfied we become with the reality of our financial situation.
It’s a vicious cycle that can destroy your financial future.
So, if you’re trying to improve your financial situation, and think contentment could be a big part of that, this post is for you.
Let’s get started.
What is financial contentment?
Financial contentment is the state of satisfaction experienced while living within your means. It is the understanding that more material gain will not bring you happiness. Rather, finding fulfillment comes from discipline, generosity, and gratitude in your financial life.
It is important to understand one thing though, financial contentment and laziness are not synonyms. You can be financially content, while at the same time, working to improve your financial situation.
In fact, financial contentment is one of the secrets — if not the secret — to building wealth.
How Financial Contentment Leads To Wealth
Despite what many people believe, wealth is built over the course of many years making wise financial decisions. And when you are financially content, it is much easier to make wise decisions.
When you are happy with your life and your finances, you are less likely to spend beyond your means in order to create an illusion of wealth to the people around you. And this contentment leaves ample room for giving, saving and investing your money.
Think of it this way, when you are content living within your means — no matter how much you make — there is no reason for you to overspend.
The Purpose Of Money
Your perspective on money plays a large role in your financial contentment. And people who are financially content understand one thing: money is a tool, not the end game.
As an illustration, a carpenter that focuses entirely on acquiring more tools, will never build anything. Whereas, a carpenter that focuses his time on making furniture, and getting the most out of the tools he already owns, will build many beautiful pieces throughout his lifetime.
Like money, the tools are not the end game. It’s what you build with the tools that really matters.
Additionally, I would like to clear something up… money is not the root of all evil. This is a lie perpetuated by the financially discontent. Rather, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.
In fact, when you handle money in a wise, Godly manner, money becomes a tool for generosity, financial security, and building an honorable legacy — all of which lead to financial contentment.
Finding Financial Contentment
When I started planning this post, I didn’t want it to be some, abstract piece of fluff. I mean, who really wants to spend their time reading about the theory of financial contentment?
My goal is to help you find financial contentment. And in order to find anything, you need to take action. So, here are a few actionable steps you can take to find financial contentment.
If you are struggling to find fulfillment in your financial life, you may be suffering from a lack of discipline, which truthfully, is a prerequisite to everything that follows. And while becoming more disciplined isn’t the world’s easiest task, it is certainly better than the alternative.
To put it in the words of Jim Rohn, “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment.”
I don’t know about you, but disappointment and regret both sound an awful lot like discontentment to me. So, if you want to find contentment in your financial life, it’s important that you practice discipline.
But that is a very broad topic. So, to get down to the meat and potatoes, here are a few areas you should start cranking-up your discipline:
- Setting financial goals
- Creating a monthly budget
- Tracking your spending on a daily basis and updating your budget
- Setting a weekly meeting with your spouse to discuss finances
- Meal planning and cooking at home
- Eliminating unnecessary expenses
- Avoiding impulse purchases
Additionally, if you want to become more disciplined, you should take time to assess your weaknesses and remove the temptations that commonly cause you to misstep. Your goal should be to improve a little bit every single day, so if you have any bad habits standing in your way, eliminate them.
Give, Save, Live
For most people, the personal finance equation goes like this: income – expenses = money left over to save and give. However, this is not the way of the wealthy. And it’s certainly not the way of the financially content.
The biggest problem with this equation is that it subjects your financial future — and contentment — to the whim of your expenses. It also puts your financial success at the bottom of your priority list. And, if you remember, your money should serve as a tool for generosity and building your financial future.
So, if it’s financial contentment you seek, you need to reverse this equation to look like this: income – giving – saving = remaining living expenses.
In other words, you should give first, save second, and live off of what’s left. Or, to take it a step further: give consistently, save aggressively, live within your means.
By operating your personal finances in this sequence, you are placing priority on your financial future and generosity; two things — like I’ve mentioned before — that lead to financial contentment.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
You know what shouldn’t have any influence on your financial life? The financial lives of other people. And the more time you spend comparing your life to theirs, the less content you will feel. Also, it’s a gigantic waste of your time.
There will always be somebody that drives a cooler car, lives in a bigger home, takes more vacations than you… the list goes on and on. But that shouldn’t matter one bit. In fact, many of those people are just buried in debt and living a life beyond their means. Is that really what you want?
This is your life, and your money, and what other people have done with theirs shouldn’t carry any weight with you. So, stop comparing yourself to others.
Change Your Environment
Your environment plays a major role in your contentment. And there are two areas, in particular, that deserve your constant attention: your community, and how you choose to fill your time.
Are you surrounding yourself with people that lift you up and encourage you, or are you buried in a community of negativity and gossip?
And, when you are alone, do you engage in meaningful, positive activities like exercising, reading, or your favorite hobby? Or, do you just scroll through social media and veg out in front of the tv for hours?
It’s hard to find contentment in a negative, unproductive setting. So, if your environment feels a little stale, or gloomy, make a change.
Say Goodbye To Debt
I didn’t fully realize how much of a burden debt was in my life until my wife and I finally got rid of it. What I also discovered was that owing other people money had a big impact on my financial contentment.
If you want to find fulfillment in your finances, you need to make every effort to get out of debt. And I’m talking everything — student loans, credit cards, your mortgage, your car — retire every debt in your name. It might not be easy, but it will be fulfilling.
Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
And in my experience, the borrower will struggle to find contentment until their debt is repaid.
Learn About Personal Finance
Would you trust somebody that barely understands finance to handle your money? I hope not.
But, by that logic, can you honestly trust yourself?
If you plan to make the most out of your money, it’s imperative that you learn about personal finance. Why? Because the more you know, the better decisions you will make in your financial life.
So, set a goal to read a few personal finance books every year. Or, consider taking a personal finance class at your church. Just make an effort to expand your knowledge of personal finance.
Shift Your Attitude
A negative attitude will kill your financial contentment faster than anything. But the good news is, your attitude is not determined by your circumstances. Rather, you just have to choose whether you will be positive or negative.
You can choose to be grateful for the blessings in your life. You can decide to be perpetually positive. You can focus on the progress you are making in your financial life, rather than the hurdles you still have to overcome. You can walk around with a smile on your face, and an unrelenting zest for life.
Or, you can be grumpy and negative.
The choice is yours.
Set Financial Goals
Without goals and milestones, how will you know when you’ve achieved something great? And to that effect, when will you ever have something to celebrate?
When you set financial goals, you are effectively plotting a course for your future and providing yourself with an opportunity for accomplishment and fulfillment. So, at any one time, you should have a myriad of goals that you are working to achieve.
Focus On The Process
One of the best ways I know to achieve any goal, is to focus on the process rather than the finish line.
For example, if your goal is to save $10,000 this year, that means you need to save $833.33 every month. So, what does that process look like for you? Do you need to make a little extra money each month? Do you need to cut a few extra monthly expenses? Do you need to buckle down and be more consistent with your budget?
Achieving your goals is fulfilling, but it’s in the process that you will find contentment.
Why is financial contentment not a money issue? Financial contentment is not a money issue, because there isn’t a set value that defines it. For instance, if you have a million dollars, that makes you a millionaire, but there’s no dollar amount that can make you financially content. In fact, financial contentment can be experienced at any level of wealth.